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02 August 2014

Peter Robinson: Children of the Revolution: An Inspector Banks Novel #22

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Another very good UK police procedural
There is a certain comfort in reading another good UK police procedural, and Peter Robinson is definitely one of the masters of the genre. This is a mixture of first-class team police investigations mixed in with a maverick investigation by Inspector Banks.

After 22 books in the series the lead character, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, is getting older and nearing the normal retirement age of 60. His area commander, Catherine Gervaise, suggests that he has the choice of early retirement or, if he toes the line and controls his maverick tendencies, he might get the nod to become Detective Superintendent and can stay on till 65.

In CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is faced with finding the possible killer of a retired disgraced reclusive academic, Gavin Miller, who is found dead having fallen from a footbridge over a disused railway. There are signs of a struggle pre-mortem, the bridge rails were too high to fall over and Miller has £5,000 in used notes in his pocket. As Miller has been a virtual recluse since his retirement, Banks' team have few initial clues, other than the background to the forced retirement, a small personal drug stash, and his last phone calls to help them with their investigations.

Banks and his team then follow two lines of inquiry, Miller's questionable dismissal 4 years ago from a local academic institution for sexual molestation, and a recent phone call to wealthy and successful author Lady Veronica Chalmers, who says that the call was alumni fundraising and denies any personal knowledge of Miller. There are lies on all sides and Banks soon finds that Lady Veronica's family have very powerful connections and he has to put his career at risk and use his maverick abilities to find out the truth.

As always the story is set in the Yorkshire Dales, a lovely but frequently very wild part of England. Robinson's description of the countryside is especially evocative of the moors, and becks and streams criss-crossing the dales. He gives a marvelous description of a moorland pub with roaring open fire that served “Hot pie in t’oven” which turned out to be “Game Pie" with a warning “Watch out for t’shot” (before a piece of buckshot broke one of his teeth).

This is a very good but not outstanding book by Peter Robinson, a Canadian who was born in Yorkshire. His key character Alan Banks is a real Yorkshire copper who “thrives on circumstance, contradiction, and coincidence” which are the warning signs that he always keeps a lookout for. I will also be on the lookout for the next book in the series because there is still a lot of life left in Inspector Banks.

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